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Cameron avoids discussing the Lisbon Treaty

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From Westminster

David Cameron's apparent U-turn on a Lisbon Treaty referendum was the elephant in the room at a session of Prime Minister's Questions today that was dominated once again by the ongoing violence in Afghanistan.

Labour MPs -- including David Blunkett -- ridiculed Cameron's 2007 promise in the Sun by repeatedly referring to the phrase "cast-iron guarantee", but Cameron avoided the subject by asking five out of six questions on Afghanistan.

Early in the session, the Speaker, John Bercow, interrupted Brown and chided him for referring to Tory health policy. He later asked him, in reply to Blunkett, to "focus" his answer on Europe on the government's own policy. Cameron, whose party many in Westminster believe is "out to get" Bercow, was smiling on both occasions. Later, while praising the Speaker on inviting a youth parliament to Westminster, Brown said "I may not agree with [Bercow's] rulings".

On Afghanistan, Brown looked forward to "one day [in which] Afghans can take responsibility for their own country", and said President Karzai must show his government to be "free of the stain of corruption".

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, said that "our mission in Afghanistan is in trouble because we do not have a legitimate government" there.

Brown was also asked about Gaza, and while expressing support for Israel's security, Brown said that Tel Aviv has a "humanitarian duty" to address blockades in Gaza.


Brown: 5
Cameron: 5
Clegg: 6

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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